DOI: 10.1093/schbul/sbad044 ISSN: 0586-7614

Spontaneous Brain Activity Alterations in First-Episode Psychosis: A Meta-analysis of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Studies

Giulia Cattarinussi, David Antonio Grimaldi, Fabio Sambataro
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Background and Hypothesis

Several studies have shown that spontaneous brain activity, including the total and fractional amplitude of low-frequency fluctuations (LFF) and regional homogeneity (ReHo), is altered in psychosis. Nonetheless, neuroimaging results show a high heterogeneity. For this reason, we gathered the extant literature on spontaneous brain activity in first-episode psychosis (FEP), where the effects of long-term treatment and chronic disease are minimal.

Study Design

A systematic research was conducted on PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science to identify studies exploring spontaneous brain activity and local connectivity in FEP estimated using functional magnetic resonance imaging. 20 LFF and 15 ReHo studies were included. Coordinate-Based Activation Likelihood Estimation Meta-Analyses stratified by brain measures, age (adolescent vs adult), and drug-naïve status were performed to identify spatially-convergent alterations in spontaneous brain activity in FEP.

Study Results

We found a significant increase in LFF in FEP compared to healthy controls (HC) in the right striatum and in ReHo in the left striatum. When pooling together all studies on LFF and ReHo, spontaneous brain activity was increased in the bilateral striatum and superior and middle frontal gyri and decreased in the right precentral gyrus and the right inferior frontal gyrus compared to HC. These results were also replicated in the adult and drug-naïve samples.


Abnormalities in the frontostriatal circuit are present in early psychosis independently of treatment status. Our findings support the view that altered frontostriatal can represent a core neural alteration of the disorder and could be a target of treatment.

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